Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(April 2020) I don’t know about you, but for me the days are blurring, and it's becoming normal to host Zoom calls that are interrupted by kids with questions about schoolwork. In addition to feeling immensely grateful for teachers, I’m feeling appreciative of healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, farmworkers, and neighbors who are doing their part to flatten the curve.     As Mr. Rogers...
(April 2020) Because if they lived on the Bay, they’d be bagels! At Baykeeper, we're promoting a little bit of Bay humor to keep things light. These days, with the stress of sheltering at home, caring for loved ones, and taking extra caution on the rare occasions when we head outside—whether to take a hike or hunt for toilet paper—we can all use a little smile. And we're staying busy. Baykeeper...
(March 2020) To all our supporters: I hope this message finds you and your loved ones happy and well—and adjusting to our new (temporary) reality of sheltering in place and limiting social contact to beat COVID-19. As residents of the Bay Area, I’m inspired to know that we continue to share a common bond through San Francisco Bay, despite our social distancing. The wave that breaks against the...
(March 2020) During the last few rainy seasons, Baykeeper’s scientists spent many weeks scrambling down hillsides and wading into mud to collect water samples from storm drain outfalls. Our field team was looking for the source of pollution to South Bay creeks and rivers that feed into San Francisco Bay. We got surprising results. The water samples from the cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View...
(February 2020) On January 10-12, high tides in San Francisco Bay washed up onto the shoreline of a large former pharmaceutical company in Richmond. A few hours later, the outgoing tide pulled contamination—including pesticides, toxic chemicals, and radioactive waste—off the industrial land and into the Bay.  Right now, this occurs a few times every year during the highest tides, known as King...
(January 2020) I’ve heard locals describe a film of black dust on cars, windowsills, and playground structures in the city of Richmond. Sadly, it’s often coal dust. And it’s toxic—linked to asthma, heart disease, and other illnesses.   When it rains, that toxic dust can get washed and blown into San Francisco Bay, where it can harm wildlife, too. Once in the water, the Bay’s tiniest creatures...
(December 2019) What I saw on the San Francisco Bay shoreline that day worried me.  I asked our volunteer skipper, Robert, to maneuver the Baykeeper boat closer. Since the last time we'd been to the site, more heavy industrial equipment had piled up near the water. And more barges were crowding the dock. It looked likely that during storms, toxic pollutants would run off into the Bay.   We needed...
(November 2019) Every year, 7 trillion tiny pieces of plastic—microplastics—flow into San Francisco Bay. Once these tiny pieces are in the water, they never go away. They just break into smaller and smaller pieces. Microplastics range from the size of a popcorn kernel to smaller than a grain of salt. Some plastic particles sink into the mud on the Bay floor. Others float near the surface, where...
(October 2019) The Trump administration has reached a new low in its assault on clean water.  Trump's Environmental Protection Agency is claiming that Bay water isn’t water.  The agency recently decided that the South Bay salt ponds are land and don't need Clean Water Act protection. This bizarre decision is dangerous for San Francisco Bay. Corporations created the South Bay salt ponds by...
(September 2019) Once-through cooling. For decades, power plants along the San Francisco, Pittsburg, and Antioch shorelines used this technology.  Powerful pumps sucked Bay water into local power plants, pulling in larvae and small fish that died by the force. Intake screens trapped larger fish in the water rushing in. Heated water dumped into the Bay killed fish eggs and made it too warm for...

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